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‘Get under the skin’ of the Vail International Dance Fest

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily
ALL |

VAIL, Colorado ” Dance lovers might have noticed some new additions to the Vail International Dance Festival this year.

From cheap tickets to flamenco dancing, the lineup promises to surprise even the most seasoned festivarian.

Scheduled for July 27 through Aug. 10 in the Vail Valley, the dance festival celebrates its 20th birthday this summer. Damian Woetzel, artistic director of the Vail International Dance Festival, shared some of the changes in this year’s lineup. Here’s a look at what’s new:

The Paul Taylor Dance Company has been the subject of serious pontification in New York City.

Having wrapped up a three-week season in the Big Apple earlier this month, the company provided plenty of fodder for dance purveyors like The New York Times.

One reviewer commented on the “beefy and so often bare-chested men charging about the stage,” while a reporter likened the dance themes to “surrealistic nightmares, many of them creepily funny.”

Pretty soon, Vailites will have a chance to chime in on the Paul Taylor debate. The company is a new addition to the dance festival, with a cameo scheduled for opening night at the Ford Ampitheater in Vail and a separate performance set for the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.

A staple of modern dance, choreographer Paul Taylor is most famous for “Esplanade,” a piece set to Bach (look for it opening night) and most recently “De Suenos” and “De Suenos Que Se Repiten,” a pair of dances with scores by Mexican composers.

Taylor has studied with some of ballet’s most revered figures. No wonder Dance Festival Artistic Director Damian Woetzel describes him as a “living American genius.”

Next time you slip “Notes on a Scandal,” into your DVD player, close your eyes and listen to the score. You’ll hear work by famous composer Philip Glass. The music scribe will play live during the dance festival’s opening night.

Although music pundits have dubbed Glass a minimalist, there’s nothing small about his accomplishments. With Academy Award nominations for the scores behind “Kundun,” “The Hours” and “Notes on a Scandal,” Glass is a household name.

“He has composed music that is so familiar to us, from movies like ‘The Hours’ to operas like ‘Einstein on the Beach.’ He’s a unique American treasure,” Woetzel said.

Forget about emptying your wallet to watch dancers twirl. If you have $20.08, you can score a ticket to Dance for 2008.

“It’s an initiative to bring dance, really, to the community, to people who might not ordinarily think to go to the festival,” Woetzel said.

This new, modestly-priced event brings two dance troupes to Vail for the first time.

Noche Flamenca, a flamenco company founded in Madrid in 1993, stars the “fiery, radiant” Soledad Barrio (New York Times). Modern dancers in Keigwin + Company will perform “Love Songs,” a dance set to Aretha Franklin and Neil Diamond.

“It’s the kind of dancing that just makes you smile continuously until your cheeks hurt,” Woetzel said.

You don’t have to be a dance geek to know Jerome Robbins. He choreographed “West Side Story” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” The dance festival will pay homage to Robbins with two events.

The Pacific Northwest Ballet will perform “Fancy Free,” Robbins’ comic ballet about three sailors on leave. A separate workshop will take an up close look at Robbins. Woetzel and Peter Boal, the director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet, will share their inside knowledge on the choreographer. They worked together at the New York City Ballet before Robbins’ death in 1998.

“We’re gonna show rehearsals. We’re going to show some actual performance, we’ll show some film,” Woetzel said. “It’ll be a whole other idea of a performance, getting away from the idea that you come in, you watch and you leave. We’re going to really get under the skin.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.


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